As a resident of the boarding house of Mercy Ministries, I would like to provide some insights and observations.
Drugs and crime affect every family in America, and more than 50 percent of America is living one paycheck away from homelessness. We better support places such as Mercy Ministries because we are going to find ourselves needing them more and more.
MM Executive Director Fran Oliver does have a physical address in Columbia County, but spends more time here, free, than at home. Here is where she saw a problem that she sought to help fix. Most "Christians" worship a homeless man on Sunday and spit on the homeless Monday through Saturday.
With regard to the condition of the boarding house, we are anxiously and hopefully awaiting the time we can lock in a purchase price for the building so we can begin renovations. Any ideas are welcome as a conservative estimate for these costs is more than $160,000.
With regard to some of the people here living in "filth" within their own rooms, how many of us have homes with attics, basements, the space under our kids' beds that, under a building, health or fire department inspection, would be labeled as filthy? We are grateful that this was pointed out, as we have helped and are helping those individuals clean and disinfect.
Many of us know of homes that have cousins who are crackheads, or in which deviant sexual behavior is practiced, but are not yet brought out to the public scrutiny we welcome, for it helps us see our faults, correct them and get better at doing our jobs. If we were 100 percent successful all the time, we would not be challenging ourselves enough.
We have approximately 18 people living in about 11 rooms, many of whom are parents and grandparents. Of course we have lots of people coming in and out. I don't know why the young lady mentioned in The Augusta Chronicle's April 20 article ("Uneasy streets") wondered who lived here or not, especially when she is one of those who comes over, and in and out.
I would love to meet Mr. Palmer and his neighborhood activist group, to work together to allay his fears and help one another accomplish what is really our mutual goal: the betterment of Harrisburg, and to make it a safe and great place to live.
Ms. Oliver is an inspiration and we call her the Quiet Warrior. She has been at her husband's hospital bedside for more than weeks. She continues to retain an optimistic demeanor reflective of her faith. Like a great conductor who has worked long and hard with his orchestra, when she leaves the stage the music continues to play inspiring music. Fran says, "A problem is opportunity in work clothes. Let's work hard and pure."
If we as a people send somewhere else those who don't live to our standards, we will all live in one-person neighborhoods, harboring anger and hatred as population increases and the world shrinks. We must find solutions, especially to drugs and crime - issues that affect every person in America. Raking that to the back corner of our lot will only create a fire hazard.
The writer is an Augusta resident.